My SymiChristosOi! Ex-pat! No! 04/08/2009, 23:40

Oi! Ex-pat! NO! 4 August 2009
How time flies on Symi! It’s high summer with the temperature stubbornly stuck to the early forties for what seems like weeks on end and Symi is at her busiest. Thousands of visitors arrive on a daily basis, full taxi-boats take sun-worshippers to beaches around the island, accommodation is getting increasingly more difficult to find, the harbour is packed full of yachts and dozens have no choice but to moor out in Harani waiting for an empty slot or around at Pedi crowding the bay while the eagerly awaited marina is being constructed. During the evenings you are spoiled for choice when it comes to eating out as the inviting smell of cooked food and barbecues is in the air. The party continues at the bars with long drinks, good company and dancing until the next day dawns. In other words, a good Symi summer and it’s about to get even better and busier as August is here and the Symi Festival with its packed programme of events is underway.

Up in SymiGreece Towers, we've been very busy on numerous projects, including strengthening the links between the Municipal newspaper and SymiGreece already has complete responsibility for the publication of the monthly English language Municipal newspaper “The News of Symi” (from editorial control, graphic design and production of the paper to writing articles and creating ads) and, as every year, SymiGreece is covering the Symi Festival with photo and video updates from many performances. This year, however, we have the official backing of the Municipal newspaper (Greek edition) which is responsible for distributing SymiGreece photos and videos of the Symi Festival to all major national and local media in Greece. There are plans for even greater collaboration in the very near future; the details are being finalised at the moment and I’ll be able to say more soon.

The July edition of The News of Symi may well be the most successful so far in terms of readership, downloads, positive feedback and advertising revenue for the Municipality. Production of the newspaper occupies a large part of our time, especially during “paper week”, but we have been busy on all our other initiatives for Symi. The FAROS Symi Calendar 2010 is now available on Symi and online, we hope to repeat the Symi art exhibition in Horio sometime in August, fund-raising events for FAROS are currently being planned and of course the recent FAROS vet clinic (the 5th in just over a year) was a great success.

During the FAROS week the temperature reached 40 degrees each day but this didn’t stop people bringing animals to the clinic and the treatment was as always wide-ranging: from general check-ups and first/repeat vaccinations, to blood testing, neutering and major life-saving operations including an eye removal and an amputation. FAROS may be just over a year old but is already well-established and respected on Symi and people know who to call for professional veterinary advice in between vet clinics (provided directly by vets at the University clinic in Thessaloniki). I was pleased that very few people this time made the mistake to associate FAROS with cat-snatching foreigners and mass neutering that is so despised on Symi. In the few instances when it was necessary, I repeated that FAROS opposes cat snatching without permission and mass neutering (a practice championed by Symi Animal Welfare which has now stopped because of FAROS opposition), and that FAROS encourages people to bring animals they care for or feed to be neutered by the FAROS vets if they wish to.

I was also pleased to see members of SAW bringing their own animals to FAROS to be treated by the vets but sadly, once again, they didn’t bring a single feral cat to be neutered. Despite their expressed view that they’d like to neuter a large number of feral cats, they have once again decided to put politics ahead of animal welfare and chose not to use the vets when they were here. This can mean one of two things: the cats in Horio are few (as most Symiots believe) and they don’t want to neuter the females that are left (in which case what they say publicly about cat numbers being too large in Horio is a lie), or there are too many cats in certain areas and they could have brought them to FAROS to be neutered, but decided not to. Maybe they hope that eventually a “problem” will be created and they can feel justified in trying to bring another English-sponsored vet to mass neuter. Whether they’re lieing or being devious, it doesn’t really matter as FAROS is here to stay, people do bring animals by the hundreds (including feral cats for neutering) and there will NOT be another English-sponsored mass-neutering visit. In case this dismays people who think I’m being antagonistic to a group of caring people, let me just remind you that there have been 22 days of FAROS surgeries in just over a year and SAW haven’t brought a single feral cat for neutering, not even one, in all those days; if SAW ever complain in the future about there being too many cats on Symi and how horrible Will or I are for opposing them bringing English vets to Greece, they should be reminded of how they have sat back and wasted day after day after day after day of opportunity; they’re hypocrites and quite clearly not deserving of anyone’s support.

Of course, there is another reason why Melanie Sharp of SAW didn’t bring any feral cats to FAROS: she was too busy contributing to “the yellow dossier” for delivery to the Municipality. The dossier is a collection of libel and lies with out-of-context extracts from SymiGreece blogs and chat page posts put together during the FAROS week by a handful of English ex-pats in a laughable attempt to damage SymiGreece and Will and myself in the eyes of the Municipality. What they want is for SymiGreece to stop criticising and satirising their group of about a dozen English ex-pats, to stop exposing them for what they are and to have the Municipality tell us off and dictate how we run a private website. The unimpressive hack-job was dismissed within minutes, of course.

At first I was quite angry. A handful of English migrants come to Symi because they have failed in anything they were doing in England, create a ghetto thinking that they are superior to anyone else here, give a bad name to all the other English and other non-Greeks on Symi (who want nothing to do with them) by claiming to speak for them… and they want to tell me what to do and how to be in my own country! After a while though, the desperation and incompetence of these people seemed quite amusing. They really haven’t the slightest idea of how Greece is, and know nothing about its people, its culture, its habits, manners and quirks. They just continue to make fools of themselves. Poor things, how hot under the collar they get when their actions and bad behaviour are exposed.

The self-righteous contributors to the dossier made some attempt to be anonymous by removing email headers and signatures from their contributions, but other than Melanie Sharp, Jordan Blakesley of Symi Art was left unhidden, almost certainly deliberately, as he is so loved by his newly-re-found ex-pat friends who he used to despise and laugh at just a few months ago. Of course, those were the days he was being paid thousands by nasty SymiGreece.

Maybe what SymiGreece should do is just re-employ Jordan to take photos and to also be the website administrator (though thankfully we can manage a little bit better than the non-dynamic flat websites which are all he’s capable of). That way there‘d be no embarrassing references to the tax-dodging from a handful of English ex-pats as all payments he and his friends received in the past few years were obviously declared for tax. That way, the tax man would never be tempted to start a fraud investigation covering the past few years… well, not without some nudging, at least…

Of all the expats on Symi, none can you disarm you more with his gregarious nature than Blakesley.

Well said Frank, with his winning smile and congenial manner, Blakesley is the perfect companion for an evening down the pub.

Indeed George, but, if I’d been paying Blakesley large amounts of money for years to take photos for my website, took him and his bird out to dinner dozens of times a year and always footed the bill, gave him all manner of gifts and help, but then decided that I had to cut back after I’d paid thousands to set up a vet charity on the island...

...and if Blakesley then decides that he no longer has to pretend to like me and has a go at me on a public chat page rather than to my face, and if he told all manner of lies about me to anyone who’d listen, and if I knew he hadn’t declared his income on Symi to the tax man for years, I’d have to say:

Oi! Blakesley! No!

I admire the casual way you can win people over and not show them who you really are, but you’re in Greece and shouldn’t treat it like a tax haven.

Stop cheating and declare your income, and stop being so two-faced to all your new friends who you were happy to tell me all manner of gossip about while I was paying you, you jealous, self-centred, money-obsessed, back-stabbing bastard!

Maybe SymiGreece should also ask James and Neil from Symi Dream to edit all texts before anything is allowed to be published online. That way there‘d be nothing bad written about their books on Symi or the photos they take, and no-one would ever know about the income received (all properly taxed, of course) from selling hardcore pornographic stories about Greek islanders raping male tourists, policemen abusing their powers to rape frightened men, and teachers sexually abusing their pupils, and everyone would be happy to be associated with them and their shop/gallery.

If I am on Symi and I see an English ex-pat living here for many years and still not speaking Greek, giving English names to most places on Symi, going to certain non-Greek-run bars where non-Greeks go, looking down at the Greeks and their culture and laughing at them behind their backs, working and earning thousands but not paying tax, I’d say:

Oi! Ex-pat! NO!

You can’t live in Greece and treat it as a colony of England and tell Greeks what to do, you can’t gather and neuter cats whether the locals like it or not, you can’t be a failure in England and then come here and act all superior and treat the Greeks as low-class peasants, you can’t act like thugs and threaten and blackmail when someone dares to speak out against you… And if I see you do that again, I 'd say:

Oi! Ex-pat! NO!

A good friend of mine told me recently something really good: critique and satire were born in Greece… they will not die on Symi!

Will You Marry Me? 23 June 2009
I haven't written my Symi Blog for some time and thought to pop in and say hello!

Symi nights are a tad cooler than the scorching day heat (it reached 42 degrees a few days ago) and I'm sitting on my balcony with Queen Jess lying behind me like a common Symi cat dreaming of the air-conditioning treat she gets every night in bed. The jasmine behind me has gone wild and smelly and I've already had half a bottle of wine.

After finishing The News of Symi newspaper at 7am on Saturday morning (I hate deadlines!), I spent the weekend relaxing in Nimborio and watching Athletics as well as the opening of the new Acropolis Museum. At the moment, everybody is busy with the FAROS Symi art exhibition this Saturday 27 June at the Nautical Museum. Posters are ready and will go up tomorrow, invitations are being sent, preparations at the Museum are ongoing, Commemorative Diplomas for all children participating in the FAROS competition are being printed by the Municipality and will be signed by the Mayor himself as well as FAROS, and we also hope (touch wood!) to have the very first FAROS Symi Calendar 2010 arriving in time for the exhibition on Saturday. The calendar will also be available to purchase online, with details appearing on SymiGreece in the next couple of days.

There may also be a surprise or two during the exhibition, so make sure you pop in if you are on Symi on Saturday. There will be plenty of wine, refreshments and snacks, entrance is free, and we will be there until late.

After the exhibition, we have the 5th FAROS vet clinic which opens on the 6th of July for 5 days and the very first survey about tourism on Symi which I've been asked to run for the next 3 months; a very exciting project as Symi may well be the first island in Greece to have a scientific survey done on the scale and magnitude we envisage the Symi survey to be. As this is all hapenning, there are also discussions about the "expansion" of SymiGreece and as soon as the details are finalised, I will tell you all about it (me and my teasing... :D )

Yesterday, my CD collection finally arrived from Britland (together with the rest of our stuff) and I'm listening to Eleni Vitali right now (a CD I forgot I even had). The good thing is that now everything is here, I can finalise the next installment of The Symi Podcast as there hasn't been one for some time.

I have a lot of gossip to tell you (expat jealous liars, blackmailers, rape-promoters, assault-me-and-I-will-do-a-website-for-you-while-I-dodge-the-tax, etc.) but this has to wait as I've been yappiting on and need to do today's photos too (I knew I should have started with the gossip!). Oh well...

Talking of photos... last night I received a phone call about a wedding that was going to take place this evening in front of Nireas Hotel and I was asked if I wouldn't mind taking a few good quality free photos to put online. I'm not good at saying no and I'm glad I didn't... a very happy and beautiful British couple getting married on Symi in front of the Mayor and their family.

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All Eyes on Symi 12 May 2009
For the past few weeks, Symi has been in the centre of the national news as the ex-government Minister for the Aegean and Island Policy, Mr Aristotelis Pavlidis (who is one of the MPs representing the Dodekanese Islands) was being investigated by a Parliamentary Committee looking into allegations of blackmail when awarding subsidised boat services (including the inter-island service awarded to ANES and the boat Proteas a couple of years ago). At present the right-wing government in Greece has a majority of 1 MP so when a present MP is being investigated in that way it is naturally a top-item in the news. Mr Pavlidis has been resisting calls to resign "for the good of the party", and has always insisted on his innocence of any wrong-doing. A week ago, the Parliamentary Committee concluded their investigation and announced their findings; there was no evidence for Mr Pavlidis to be prosecuted. The opposition, of course, disagreed. A (secret) vote in Parliament took place last Monday (in Greece all MPs have immunity from prosecution and they can only be prosecuted after a vote in Parliament). The vote went in favour of the opposition, but it fell short of an overall majority, so no further investigation will take place. Before the vote, Mr Pavlidis spoke in Parliament saying that whatever the outcome, he would be visiting Symi on the 8th of May to take part in the island's celebrations and he would not be saying anything else until then.

Pavlidis's arrival was expected last Thursday evening at about 21:00 on board the Proteas. A number of politicians had already arrived on Symi together with journalists from the main national newspapers and TV channels. At about 20:30, Will and I took our cameras and our brand-new official press passes representing The News of Symi, the Municipal Radio Station and, of course, We went to Pahos, and were asked to join the table with the team from the Greek edition of The News of Symi as well as the Mayor of Symi, the elected leader of the Dodecanese Perfecture and a couple of journalists while waiting for the Proteas to bring Pavlidis to Symi. It was a very interesting gathering with the discussion ranging from current affairs to Symi-related issues as well as FAROS! I'm not going to tell you any more of what was discussed as some things were off the record, and also I want everyone to read the May edition of THE NEWS of Symi!

After a few drinks (as the boat was late), we left Pahos and joined the crowd that had already gathered. We already knew there was going to be a "proper" and loud welcome for Mr Pavlidis complete with fireworks and flowers. As the boat was docking, the Mayor gave his first interview in front of the cameras, mainly talking about the latest item of news related to Symi: the authorities were investigating a network on Symi that has been allegedly facilitating the trafficking of illegal immigrannts. As published in several newspapers (national and local) last week, there may be Symi businesses involved as well as a civil servant. In addition, a number of cameras from several locations on Symi have been seized by the police and the anti-terrorist unit in the presence of a Public Prosecutor, as well as electronic equipment as it is believed that the cameras have been used to monitor the Port Police boats and inform traffickers when it was "safe" to bring illegal immigrants to Symi. The Mayor said that there have been a few exagerated reports (some even talking about arrests) and that there is an attempt by certain sections of the media to discredit Symi.

Proteas arrived, Pavlidis emerged, the crowd went crazy and there was a fireworks display to welcome him. Pavlidis is an MP in the Dodecanese, and although Symi is tradionally a "left-leaning" island he's very much liked and respected here. I was busy taking photos of his arrival while the SymiGreece's cameraman was busy with the video footage. Unfortunately, Nikos Halkitis of the Symi Visitor decided yet again to launch an unprovoked physical and verbal assault upon a cameraman working for a different website and newspaper despite the cameraman wearing an official press pass. I think it's a shame that the ONLY video footage from the Pavlidis arrival on Symi has been spoiled by Halkitis acting in the way he has so often done in the past. It strikes me as particularly foolish that he decided to assault someone and open his mouth and spew out his foul language while being recorded doing it, but maybe he just can't help himself. Anyway, that's enough words wasted on that silly man...

The next half hour passed with the press following Pavlidis and his entourage from the harbour to Iapetos where he spent the night, having a drink before being taken out to dinner at Mythos restaurant by the Mayor.

But that wasn't the end of the night for us. SymiGreece had been asked by the top-selling Greek newspaper "TA NEA", to supply photos of the Pavlidis arrival (without getting paid, of course). We had to rush back, and prepare a number of photos to email off by 1am for the morning edition of the newspaper.

We had an early start the following day, going down at 10:00am. We met Giorgos at Pahos, the leading TA NEA journalist who came to Symi to cover the events and he was reading the morning edition of TA NEA newspaper. He quickly turned to page 9 to show me the SymiGreece photo featuring prominently (page on the left).

This was a big day for Symi commemorating the 64th anniversary of the signing of the treaty at Catherinettes to hand over the Dodecanese to the Allies after Word War II. The recent publicity of Symi in the news (and the presence of Pavlidis), meant a number of high-ranking officials were to come to Symi for the celebrations from the Deputy Minister for Mercantile Marine, Mr Panayiotis Kammenos who arrived by helicopter, to various MPs as well as Local Authority and Prefecture representatives. SymiGreece and THE NEWS of Symi covered it all and the photos and videos can be seen here. Lots more to come in the May edition of THE NEWS of Symi.

The day after, six SymiGreece photos appeared in the top-selling daily Rhodes newspaper, "The Rodiaki" and SymiGreece received numerous calls from newspapers and online news organisations asking for permission to use our photos.

With all the publicity and extra work we have been neglecting the daily photos for SymiGreece, but this is only temporary and we will be up to speed in no time.

This week is newspaper-week for SymiGreece so check out the new stories, articles, photos, and of course the one and only ExPatCat in the May edition of THE NEWS of Symi, the English-language newspaper for Symi, which will be out on Symi, Rhodes and online shortly. With all the gross inaccuracies written up about the past few days' events on some of Symi's English language blogging sites, once more SymiGreece has proved itself to be the only Symi-based site in English that reports the facts correctly.

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